Chicago City Council Drafts Resolution in Support of LGBT Athletes

The Chicago City Council has drafted a resolution asking the commissioners of 5 major men's professional sports leagues (the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS) to support LGBT identifying athletes. The resolution was made in congruence with The Last Closet, a campaign to end homophobia in sports. A similar resolution by Last Closet Campaign was made with members of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors to announce the launch of a national effort to pave the way for the first US professional male athlete to come out of the closet while still playing.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman became the first of these five commissioners to take a strong public stance in support of a hypothetical future gay athlete when he announced the league's historic partnership with the You Can Play project last week.

They resolution brings up the fact that Chicago has 7 professional sports teams that have "electrified and united (their) city", with "Chicagoans of all genders, races, and classes (celebrating their) teams' accomplishments as shared victories…" This includes LGBT residents, who are, contrary to some people's beliefs, able to celebrate the city's teams with as much fervor and devotion as straight identifying fans.

Even though many people don't think of it in this way, it is important to recognize that, for LGBT athletes, playing a sport is their job. Like any other job, LGBT personneal need to feel safe from persecution. In addressing this, the resolution stated, "BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor, and members of the City Council of the City of Chicago respectfully request that the Commissioners of Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, and Soccer use the authority of their office to sanction players who have engaged in specific incidents of slurs and intolerance toward LGBT athletes.”

The resolution also includes that,"the Last Closet Project leadership, under the auspices of the nonprofit organization Woman Vision, is seeking interviews with all the major league sports Commissioners for the purpose of filming a statement of affirmation for LGBT athletes." All athletes should be celebrating the fact that they are able to successfully able to compete in the highest tier of their respective sports; not hiding in the shadows for fear of harassment and retaliation based on who they are.

The resolution by the Chicago City Council has not yet been passed. Council Alderman Joe Moore's Committee on Human Relations will hold hearings to discuss the resolution on May 7, 2013—it is here that LGBT athletes and organizations can testify.